Thursday, January 19, 2006

Human Rights Whacked

"It will be interesting to see how long the White House can recite China’s abuses when its own moral threads are unraveling to the point that it has become the schoolmarm scolding the world in exposed lingerie."—Derrick Jackson, Boston Globe column, March 3, 1999

"Fighting terrorism is central to the human rights cause. But using illegal tactics against alleged terrorists is both wrong and counterproductive."—Kenneth Ross, executive director, Human Rights Watch.

Human rights! How low you’ve fallen in the esteem of those countries that once made you their battle cry. How scorned you’ve become, how cheap, how cumbersome. The West, and the United States in particular, used to be synonymous with human rights as principles, as policies, as exports and, when it was convenient, as conditions. Sure the West had its abuses, its repressive prisons, its internment camps and Red Scares and McCarthys. But those were the exceptions rather than the rule. Western governments would once have been ashamed to smell of repression as they campaigned to crack the Soviet Bloc or free dissidents from the Chinese gulag or unmoor Cuba from Castro’s cast-irons. They might deal with repressive regimes, even sponsor them. They wouldn’t dream of aping their methods. At least not in the open, not as a matter of policy, not as a matter of fact and routine, as they do now. Read the full post...